Camille Pissarro painted very few still lifes throughout her career. Specifically, only 7 of the more than 1,300 paintings that have been attributed to her are cataloged. And possibly the most valuable of them all is this one en titled Still life with a coffeepot. A work painted in 1900 and currently part of the collection of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg in Russia.
Still Life with a Pissarro Coffeepot
Of the whole image, surely the element that attracts the most attention is the background of the painting. A background that would actually be a highly decorated fabric with plant and animal forms that certainly remind us of an aesthetic trend very much of the time: Japonisme.
Y is not the only element that reminds of Japanese fashion. We must also include the black lacquered tray that is on the table with a white tablecloth and that occupies a large part of the lower area of the canvas.
On that tray are the elements that make up the still life itself. A coffee pot, a sugar bowl, a bit of a map, cutlery,… Each of them chosen for the occasion. While in his landscapes and his plein air paintings, where Pissarro could make series of the same motif, whether urban like the Boulevard de Montmartre or rustic like his views of Pontoise, in the case of his still lifes he did not repeat motifs.
he would make a composition for every occasion. And for this still life he undoubtedly chose objectsthat had to interact and combine with the ornamental background of the canvas. In fact, we can say that this is the most decorative painting that Pissarro made in his entire life.
By the way, they are objects that are not of great quality, and almost uneven, so the researchers assume that the painter made this canvas during his stay in Normandy during the summer of that 1900, since he would take advantage of what he had at hand in his vacation home. A moment in which he surely did not fully understand the still lifes ofPaul Cezanne, but which he admired. And in some way he sought to propose similar games of shapes and colors, although he did not do it in such a methodical way as Cézanne, who at that time did not stop experimenting with this type of still life, the which were to be the basis of the later cubismo.
Pissarro's thing is more intuitive, and of course with a technique very typical of impressionist art. That is why you see relationships such as between the white of the wrinkled tablecloth and the faint highlights in the green bowl or white porcelain cup.